Photo by Bill Roseberry
Roxana’s Claire Bollinger (left) and Marquette Catholic’s Nicole Grimaud (right) chase down a loose ball during a soccer match at the Wood River Soccer Park on April 20. The Shells and Explorers will join CM and EA-WR in the Class 1A CM Regional beginning Tuesday.
They will be kicking for keeps next week in local girls’ soccer competition. Nobody wants to get booted off the stage this time of the season.
Civic Memorial is welcoming a four-team Class 1A regional that involves four Greater Alton teams at the Bethalto Sports Complex.
Top-seeded Marquette Catholic takes on East Alton-Wood River at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by a battle between Roxana and CM in another rivalry feud at 6:30 that night. The Eagles are seeded second and the Shells third.
“We like it that way, with all local teams playing at our place,” CM coach Eric Zyung said. “It’s nice to see that and it should be a good showcase for the fans. We have one of the best grass fields in the area.”
Tuesday’s winners clash at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 15, for a berth in the Columbia Sectional. Regional champions from Olney East Richland, Waterloo Gibault and Columbia also advance to the sectional.
Marquette is the clear-cut regional favorite. The Explorers claimed a state title in 2011, finished second in 2009 and third in 2013 before bowing to Rochester, 2-1, in super-sectional play last year. The 11-5-2 Explorers, who have beaten Roxana, 4-0, and EA-WR, 7-0, are priming for a deep run in the postseason. Marquette hasn’t played CM yet.
“So far, so good,” Explorers’ coach Steve Mitchell said. “We’re getting ready for the postseason and we want to be healthy. We have been battling some injuries.”
Annabelle Copeland is recovering from a broken nose, while Lauren Schmickley and Kate Sanfilippo are dealing with tender ankles.
Sanfilippo is the leading scorer with nine goals and 16 assists for 34 points. Copeland has contributed three goals and three assists. Schmickley has logged four goals. Adriana Schindler has tallied eight goals and has two assists, while Bailey Hartrich has three goals and three assists.
But it’s Marquette’s defense, backed by freshmen goalies Lauren Fischer and Sonorah Eldred, that’s lugging the load. The Explorers allowed just 14 goals through their first 18 matches. And they registered nine shutouts.
“The defense is the backbone of our team,” Mitchell said. “Our goalkeeping and defense have been tremendous.”
He’s hoping that continues.
“Our goal every year is to go to state and the ultimate goal is to be the state champion,” Mitchell said.
CM, which started the week with a 9-6-1 record, has defeated Roxana, 4-1, and EA-WR, 8-0, earlier this season. However, Eagles’ coach Eric Zyung is wary of the vastly improved Shells.
“That win came in the season’s first match,” Zyung said. “Both teams have gotten better since the start of the season and you can’t look past anybody in the regional.”
Freshman Cassie Hall has supplied the Eagles with ample scoring. Entering the week, she had punched in 21 goals to go with five assists for 47 points thus far. McKenzie Dixon (four goals and seven assists), Andra Myers (four goals and six assists), Julie Bruns (three goals and six assists) and Ellie Cummings (three goals and four assists) contribute to the cause.
Sophomore goalie Samantha Mann had 10 wins and a goal-against average of 1.83 at the start of the week. The 12-5 Shells have won six in a row.
“Our three senior defenders on the backline — Summer Standefer, Kara Wesolowski and Andra Myers — have been solid for us,” Zyung said. “We have to be solid defensively. On offense, we need to attack in numbers and be creative.”
Nobody has been more creative than Roxana freshman Emma Lucas. She had accounted for 19 goals and six assists, worth 44 points entering Monday.
“It’s not often that you have both freshmen (Hall and Lucas) leading their teams in scoring,” Zyung said.
Lucas scored all of the goals in Roxana’s recent 3-0 win against rival EA-WR.
Claire Bollinger is another potent scorer for the Shells. She has five goals and 10 assists. Sydney Owsley (seven goals and seven assists), Brittany Alexander (four goals and eight assists) and Niah Bevelo (six goals and three assists) are capable scorers. Goalie Samantha Hurst owns nine wins and possesses a 1.76 goals-against average.
EA-WR, sporting a 5-13 record, has relied on Shannon Inman (eight goals and two assists), Kayla Hewlett (four goals and five assists) and Lauren Reynolds (four goals and three assists) to stoke its attack. Lora Ruyle (four goals), Brittany Grayson (three goals and two assists) and Madison Shewmake (three goals and two assists) add to the offense. Goalie Chrissy Long has all five of the Oilers’ wins.
Follow @StevePorter51 on Twitter